“We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.” – Fight Club.
Women complain about men.
It’s been that way since the beginning. Archaeologists say the earliest cave drawings depicted heavy-browed women glaring at a hapless Paleo man struggling to build a fire.
I occasionally leave my house to take up space in a coffee shop to “do work,” where I’ll invariably find myself within earshot of a typical man–bashing section. Let’s just say things haven’t changed much.
Men are slobs. They’re lazy, they obsess about sports, and they love boobs. They also don’t communicate their feelings well, like that time during game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals when you decided to ask your man, “So what are you thinking?”
Is that still the worst they can come up with? That we occasionally leave the seat up, or feel compelled to write our signature in the magical first snowfall?
However, lately what I’m hearing (and seeing) has me rethinking things. Cause a lot of these “men” being bashed don’t sound like men at all.
No. not another man-bashing rant.
There are very good men out there, believe me. You just don’t hear about them, as they don’t fork out $200 a month to Verizon to spill their guts online.
I know some truly solid dudes; guys who quietly put in long work days but still have time to be loving husbands and attentive fathers, even recreational athletes or musicians.
Some are even capable of keeping the boy inside alive, a remarkable feat in a merciless world where stress and overwhelm and disappointment conspire to strip every last vestige of childhood wonder from your hardening soul.
My criticism is for the new breed of single 30-something men. The “players” who say they “choose” to be single to “live their life.”
Sounds so ballsy. So manly.
So full of shit. Fact is, they’re pussies.
Instead of attacking some meaningful goal, be it serving society or even bettering themselves, they choose to drift without a rudder in the widening gulf between adolescence and adulthood.
They bounce from dead end job to dead end job because it wasn’t “for them,” all while making sure their free time is occupied by Facebook, fantasy football, and swiping through a stream of Tinder matches on an $800 smartphone that they “upgrade” every year.
And then complain that, “Women today are completely messed up!”
Maybe your shit is making them that way?
A female friend is smart, successful, exotic, and gorgeous.
For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why she remained on the market. So using Occam’s Razor, I concluded that there must be a strong current of bat shit crazy simmering just below the surface, ready to explode all over the next poor bastard who didn’t return her text in 30 seconds.
Or that she had some impossible set of standards, molded by a lifetime of chick flicks. Like any man worthy of her presence must be sensitive, cleans the bathroom, and loves eating quiche with her mother, all while making high six figures as an underwear model.
Instead, her wish list was decidedly reasonable: decent looking, passable sense of humor, ambitious, and the kicker: not a douchebag.
Someone who will stand up for something.
Instead she’s alone.
Why is this happening?
In Fight Club, author Chuck Palahniuk blamed the change in the state of masculinity in American culture on consumerism. Perhaps he was onto something?
Or maybe it’s environmental? Are men being chemically “feminized?”
Studies have reported that, on average, male sperm counts around the world have more than halved in the past 50 years and are still falling at a rate of two per cent every year.
Possible explanations for the decline include stressful lifestyles, poor diet, and hormone mimicking or “endocrine disrupting” chemicals in our drinking water.
So is the cure for the Disappearing Male to stop flushing expired birth control pills down the toilet and avoid the mall?
I don’t think so. Men just need to find a purpose. And live by a code.
The need for purpose defines us as human beings. We crave purpose and need it in our lives, otherwise, we short circuit, like an Alaskan malamute without a sled to pull.
The Japanese call a purpose an Ikigai, which means “a reason for being.” And without it, a man is good to no one, especially not a woman.
When you have a sense of purpose, life’s distractions slip away. Bullshit reveals itself as, well, bullshit.
It’s like a seasoned bodybuilder who gets unsolicited dieting advice leading up to a show – he might nod his head and say “I’ll keep it in mind,” but he sticks to his plan. Because he knows it works for him.
According to Dr. Steve Taylor, a sense of purpose makes us less self-centered. When we feel a part of something bigger, something outside ourselves, we’re less likely to obsess about our own worries and anxieties. “Our own problems seem less significant, and we spend less time thinking about them, and so our sense of well-being increases.”
But finding a purpose is a struggle. You can’t order one from Amazon and get it in three days with free shipping. Nor can you copy someone else’s; no matter how inspired their cute Facebook memes make you feel.
It took most of my adult life to accept mine. And it never would’ve happened had I not unplugged from what everyone else was doing and did the real heavy lifting, namely intense introspection.
Now anyone can be introspective but few do it. Because it requires not staring into some screen every waking hour. Instead, you must “stare” into yourself.
It also requires the luxury of a “safe & secure life,” something many people just struggling to survive don’t have, and something that I’m very grateful for.
But don’t let the pretentiousness discourage you. A purpose doesn’t have to be something “significant”, like curing a disease or solving world hunger. It just has to be something larger than you.
My purpose is to help people build a body they enjoy living in.
I believe this develops confidence, which is a natural antidote for insecurity, which can keep an otherwise productive person stuck in the starting blocks. And a confident, capable man (or woman) can accomplish almost anything that they put their minds to.
So my purpose is to do a small part to change that.
Once you know why you’re here, you need rules to live by. You need a code.
Dudes joke about the unwritten “Bro Code,” filled with stuff like “before dating a buddy’s ex-girlfriend, you must first ask his permission and he in return must grant it.”
But having a code is incredibly important. It basically dictates every important decision you make, like how you spend your time and with whom.
It also keeps you in check. An old boss of mine used to say, “Always do what you say.” As a result, I quit promising customers what I couldn’t deliver.
So when you know a man’s code, you know his moral compass. You know where they stand, and by extension, where you stand.
Now having a code doesn’t mean not trying new things — when you’re young, you should try new things — it means not changing or violating those few hallmarks of your being that are truly important to you.
A man who insists on being home to eat dinner with the kids has a code. Ditto someone who refuses to swear in the workplace or in front of children. You may not agree, but that’s irrelevant. No one cares. It’s not your code.
Think this is silly? You’ve met folks with no code. They’re flaky. Think of a Vegan that chews your ear off about how eating meat is murder but then can’t resist a juicy steak on the weekend. Or a city councilor who rails for stiffer fines for speeding and then drives home from the bar three martinis deep.
Just don’t start believing that because you have a code you’re automatically a good catch. Even very bad people can have principles.
Anton Chigurh, the homicidal killer from No Country For Old Men, has a strong personal code, which leads him to kill almost everyone he comes across save for those who stand up to him on legitimate grounds.
So as principled as he may be, he’s still a horrible person, and probably the last person you’d want to play flip a coin with.
A code is also limiting. It can mean seeing less of certain people, even people whose company you might enjoy. Not to mention, a strong code can make those who just “live their life” feel uncomfortable.
My code is simple: be genuine, try not to judge or be petty, work hard, be helpful, find humor in things, and above all, try to be brave.
Considering it’s approaching November 11th, it’s fitting that I’d say bravery is the hardest, though it doesn’t require joining the Army. Bravery is simply standing up for what’s right, even when it doesn’t benefit you. Especially when it doesn’t benefit you.
I’m no expert on the male-female dynamic, nor do I find the topic particularly interesting. But I do hold a standard of how I think men should behave. And I’m pretty sure a lot of women might agree with me.
Don’t just do what feels good to you at the time. Don’t abandon things the second they get difficult. Don’t live your life just for you.
Figure out your purpose and develop a personal code of conduct that reflects your principles. Then commit for the long haul. Do that I can pretty much guarantee that women will seem a lot less “crazy” or “needy.”
Combine this with a half-decent body, a wardrobe that doesn’t say “Look at me, I don’t give a shit!” and a modest sense of humor and you might suddenly have a few attractive options.